Crew chief Jerry Cook takes Bus driver

TOLEDO, OH September 18, 2000 While the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series rested before tackling one of its toughest challenges of the NASCAR 2000 season, SealMaster Racing Team crew chief Jerry Cook found himself behind the wheel of a school...

TOLEDO, OH September 18, 2000 While the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series rested before tackling one of its toughest challenges of the NASCAR 2000 season, SealMaster Racing Team crew chief Jerry Cook found himself behind the wheel of a school bus on Sunday afternoon. However, he wasn't working as a driver ferrying students to and from school, he was in a good old fashioned short track war.

Cook is a regular competitor in the late model division at Toledo Speedway when he has a weekend away from his duties as his brother Terry's crew chief on the #88 PickupTruck.com Chevrolet. So it would be no surprise that he was entered in the now-annual school bus race at the track...except that the race is held on the track's figure-eight course.

As the green flag dropped, all 10 busses somehow managed to squeeze into the tight first set of turns. However, as the field looped around to complete the first lap, it got a little hairy, and Cook made his move. A daring four-wide "pass-in-the-grass" put Cook in the lead as the field competed its first lap, and he was never seriously challenged throughout.

That was not the end of the excitement as the race was halted three times for rollovers. Each time a bus ended on its side, the crowd would roar its approval, and an equally load roar would be heard when the bus was righted and restarted.

"I had an absolute blast today," Cook said in victory lane. "Marco's Pizza, the sponsor of my late model, decided they wanted one of these busses out here, and we just finished painting and decaling it in the pits this morning. Once we got started, I had a hard time seeing because I was smiling and laughing so hard. This is the most fun I have had at the racetrack in a long, long time. If we could get some wind tunnel time and get this engine on a dyno, I think we could have a serious challenger for the teams in the Truck Series!"

While all the drivers wanted to win the unique event, one competitor summed up the event afterwards: "If I couldn't win, I wanted to cause one heck of a big crash!"

As the crowd roared its approval, Cook found himself a little more relaxed and ready to take on the Monster Mile.

"This was a nice distraction," said Cook among the smoking wreckage of the day's final intersection collision. "It was great to come out, have a great time, and not have to worry about every little detail. Coming out here and having the chance to unwind helps tremendously. We can get back to work in the shop Monday morning knowing we are all ready to go out and do this for real in Dover."

Jerry Cook and his PickupTruck.com/SealMaster Racing teammates take on the ultra-fast Dover Downs International Speedway Friday, September 22. The MBNA e-Commerce 200 will be televised on ESPN at 8pm and broadcast live on MRN Radio. Cook will then return to the high-banks of Toledo Speedway in his own Marco's Pizza late model and run his final race of the year as a driver, the ARCA Glass City 200 on September 23-24.

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Series ARCA , NASCAR Truck